The futures of agency
Exploring the liminal spaces between action and responsibility
26 October 2023 (Thursday), 11:15-13:00, imagine3

Exploring the Liminal Spaces between Futures Unconsciousness and Futures Consciousness: a journey from traumatisation to empowerment among marginalised youth in Kenya

Youth and adolescents in Kenya, and across much of Africa, experience chronic stress and trauma due to high levels of poverty, unemployment, domestic violence/abuse, police harassment, exposure to events such as violent crime, witnessing extra-judicial killings, and terrorism (i.e., youth recruitment by al-Shabaab). Transgenerational and historical trauma are also challenges. Research shows that trauma can reduce futures thinking skills/aptitudes, thus reducing individuals’ futures consciousness. Neurobiological studies using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging reveal that the same regions of the brain process past and future thinking, i.e., the semantic memory works to project the past into the future. Therefore, unresolved, constraint-laden, traumatising pasts can lead to limited abilities to envision a better future. This paper provides preliminary evidence to suggest community-led trauma healing interventions that utilise holistic mental health and psychosocial support approaches within these marginalised groups result in increased capacity across six dimensions of futures consciousness (agency beliefs, systems perspectives, time perceptions, concern for others, openness to alternatives, and wisdom). The paper explores the liminal spaces between living with the effects of trauma and being trauma-informed, and how these interventions equip current/future generations to proactively identify new pathways for fostering the conditions and behaviours that facilitate building flourishing societies. A core contribution looks at the inverse of futures consciousness, i.e., futures unconsciousness. Data also support the Triple Dividend—a World Health Organisation concept that holds that increased health/well-being investments with adolescents (10-19-year-olds) can yield a “triple dividend” of benefits now and in the future.

Co-Founder and Managing Partner
REAL Consulting Group
Lecturer and Advisor
Tangaza University College